Marijke Rowland

The show may be over for this reporter, but the clapping never ends

The streets of downtown Modesto are filled for one of the largest annual events, X-Fest, or Xclamation Festival.
The streets of downtown Modesto are filled for one of the largest annual events, X-Fest, or Xclamation Festival. Modesto Bee

In an industry built on curtain calls and encores, it only seems fitting that I’d get to say goodbye twice.

I’ve had two shots at covering the Central Valley’s arts and entertainment scene — first in the 2000s for six years and now the past four years in the 2010s. Each stint has been a joy because art — from dramas to comedies to music to painting to everything in between — is all about joy. It’s the joy comes in the inspiration and creation and production and — if you’re very lucky — gets reflected back through the audience.

But as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said (oh, yeah, we’re going Greek philosopher deep), the only constant is change. And nowhere is that more evident than today’s newspaper business. So I will be departing my role as arts and entertainment writer here at The Modesto Bee again. And, once again, I’ll be returning to the world of business to cover what is coming and going in the world of restaurants, retail and development locally.

It has been my absolute privilege to cover the arts in the Central Valley and foothills over the years. I’ve witnessed the rise of the Gallo Center for the Arts, the revival of downtown Modesto, the re-revival of downtown Modesto, the growth of the region’s theater community, the success of some of our hometown standouts on the big and small screen. The creativity and determination to create a better, more inspiring, more artistic community continues to humble and amaze me.

Modesto and the Central Valley isn’t an arts mecca in the state like San Francisco and Los Angeles, but in some ways it takes more courage to create in communities like ours. In communities without the guaranteed arts audience that shows up in droves, think what it takes to put yourself out there and hope people come. (Not to put down our arts audience, it is loyal and lovely — although admittedly smaller.) Those who live here, grew up here, moved here are all working together to make it a more vibrant, more entertaining place.

Business may form the backbone of a place, but its arts community makes up its soul. While I’m sad I won’t be able to cover all your upcoming endeavors — all the concerts, all the plays, all the festivals, all the art shows, all the dances, all the everything else — I know you will continue to work tirelessly to make Modesto and the surrounding region alive and exciting. I can’t wait to see what you do next. But this time, just as a fan.

And, we will still write about arts and entertainment here in the Scene section. My very capable colleague and longtime Scene editor Pat Clark will take over our local arts coverage. So send all of your upcoming events, shows, concerts and the like to her at or give her a ring at 209-578-2312; as always send calendar listings to

So thank you all for making this area so entertaining. I’ll see you around. Look for me in the crowd, I’ll be the one clapping along calling for an encore.